Education: House Committee Holds Hearing on Harmful Use of Seclusion and Restraint

On February 27, the House Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing titled “Classrooms in Crisis: Examining the Inappropriate Use of Seclusion and Restraint Practices.” Witnesses were Dr. George Sugai, Professor, University of Connecticut; Mrs. Renee Smith of Rhode Island, the parent of a young child with autism spectrum disorder who experienced frequent restraint and seclusion; Ms. Allison Sutton, Special Education Teacher, Wichita Public Schools; and Ms. Jacqueline Nowicki, Director of Education Workforce and Income Security, Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Arc worked with its state office in Rhode Island to recruit the parent witness and support her testimony.

Visit the Committee website for more information and to access archived video of the hearing. This hearing took place in anticipation of the reintroduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the coming weeks. The Arc greatly appreciates the Subcommittee’s effort to bring needed attention to the harmful and unnecessary practices of restraint and seclusion, which are disproportionately used on students with disabilities. The Arc also appreciates Mrs. Smith’s willingness to tell her family’s story about their difficult, but ultimately successful, experience in obtaining the proper supports in school.

Education: House Committee to Hold Hearing on Inappropriate Use of Seclusion and Restraint

On February 27, the House Committee on Education and the Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold a hearing titled “Classrooms in Crisis: Examining the Inappropriate Use of Seclusion and Restraint Practices.” Witnesses will be Dr. George Sugai, Professor, University of Connecticut; Mrs. Renee Smith of Rhode Island, the parent of a young child with autism spectrum disorder who experienced frequent restraint and seclusion; Ms. Allison Sutton, Special Education Teacher, Wichita Public Schools; and Ms. Jacqueline Nowicki, Director of Education Workforce and Income Security, Government Accountability Office (GAO). Visit the Committee website for more information and to access live video on the day of the hearing. The live stream will begin at 10:00 a.m. EST.

This hearing is taking place in anticipation of the reintroduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the coming weeks. The Arc greatly appreciates the Subcommittee’s effort to bring needed attention to the harmful and unnecessary practices of restraint and seclusion, which are disproportionately used on students with disabilities.

Health Care: House Committee Holds Hearing on Legislation to Reverse Administration Policies on ACA Implementation

On February 13, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee held a hearing on proposed legislation that would reverse current administration policies on implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such as the reduction in funding for programs that assist with enrollment and the regulation allowing wider use of short-term limited duration health insurance plans. Witnesses included Grace-Marie Turner, President, Galen Institute; Katie Keith, Associate Research Professor and Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University; and Jessica K. Altman, Commissioner, Pennsylvania Insurance Department. Visit the Committee website for testimony and archived video of the hearing.

Social Security – Senate Finance Committee Advances SSA Commissioner Nomination

On November 15, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously voted to favorably report the nomination of Andrew Saul to be Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSA administers Social Security programs such as Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Visit the Committee web site for more information or to view archived video of the hearing.

Social Security – House Committee Holds Hearing on SSA’s Information Technology

On September 27, the House Ways and Means Committee Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing on the “State of Social Security’s Information Technology.” Witnesses were Rajive Mathur, Deputy Commissioner of Systems and Chief Information Officer, Social Security Administration; Gale Stallworth Stone, Acting Inspector General, Social Security Administration; and Carol C. Harris, Director, Information Technology Management Issues, Government Accountability Office. Visit the Committee web site to review testimony and archived video.

Rights – Senate Holds Hearing on Kavanaugh Nomination

Last week, the Senate Judiciary held a four-day hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. The first three days involved questioning on Judge Kavanaugh himself. The fourth day involved additional witnesses, including Elizabeth Weintraub, Advocacy Specialist at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, and Jackson Corbin, a 13-year-old with Noonan Syndrome. Ms. Weintraub testified about the importance of self-determination to her as a woman with intellectual disability and Judge Kavanaugh’s ruling in Doe Tarlow v. District of Columbia, in which he concluded that people with intellectual disability who have “never been competent” do not have a right to even have their wishes heard or considered in medical decisions (see and share video of her testimony). Jackson’s testimony related to the importance of the Affordable Care Act to his mother, his brother, and himself, all of whom have Noonan Syndrome, which comes with multiple pre-existing conditions. Visit the Committee web site (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4) for more information or to view archived video of the hearing. The Arc opposes Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Medicaid/LTSS – House Committee Holds Hearing Addressing MFP; Advocates Hold Briefing

On September 5, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on several bipartisan health initiatives, including reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration Program. Witnesses testifying on MFP were Curtis Cunningham, Vice President, National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities; and Matt Salo, Executive Director, National Association of Medicaid Directors. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to view archived video of the hearing.

On September 6, The Arc and other advocacy organizations held a briefing for Congressional staff on reauthorization of MFP. Nicole Jorwic, Director of Rights Policy at The Arc was the moderator of the briefing. Speakers were John McCarthy, Founding Partner at Speire Healthcare Strategies, Former Medicaid Director in Ohio and DC; Margaret Gartlgruber, Vice President at RHA Health Services; Mike Oxford, Executive Director for Policy, Topeka Independent Living Resource Center; and Tyree Brown, a person who transitioned back home in Maryland. MFP provides grants to states to transition people from institutions to community based settings. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this program has helped over 63,000 people transition into the community and saved Medicare and Medicaid almost $1 billion as of 2013. The Arc strongly supports reauthorization of MFP.

Medicaid/LTSS – House Committee to Hold Hearing Addressing MFP; Advocates to Hold Briefing

On September 5, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on several bipartisan initiatives, including reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration Program. On September 6, The Arc and other advocacy organizations will hold a briefing for Congressional staff on reauthorization of MFP. MFP provides grants to states to transition people from institutions to community-based settings. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this program has helped over 63,000 people transition into the community and saved Medicare and Medicaid almost $1 billion as of 2013. The Arc strongly supports reauthorization of MFP.